Stories have been circulating for awhile, here on the outskirts of cyberville, about the unhappiness that Microsoft was causing with its schizophrenic policies, constant shifting of blame, and less than solid coding. Now on ZDNet, Jason O’Grady and David Morganstern have penned an article detailing how Microsoft may just have messed with the wrong people for the last time.

That is the developers. The people who make things to work with and support the code that comes from Redmond are not the least bit happy that Microsoft seems to be of two minds about the future of things – and one of those minds has Multiple Personality Disorder.

Could it be that a Macintosh program will be the tipping point for the confidence that ISVs have in Microsoft as a technology partner? One c-level technologist for a Windows enterprise app says “no more” to Redmond’s vision.

I wrote the other day about Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit’s announcements about the Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 1 and the eventual return of support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to the Mac productivity suite.

One reader, a c-level executive at a enterprise ISV told me that this announcement out of Redmond was one waffle too many for his company, one that has relied on Microsoft since its beginnings. The company’s product is sold into Fortune 500 enterprises.

These are people that you want to keep happy, as without their business, Microsoft might have a few less billions to throw around at littler companies like Yahoo.

Another view from the person of some importance to the Microsoft coffers

“Office 2008 is indicative of a larger problem at Microsoft. To borrow from Alan Cooper, the inmates are running the asylum [the author of the 1999 Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity]. The engineers are making changes with little regard for the millions — maybe billions — of people who depend on Microsoft technology. I wish the VBA flip-flop was the only example.”

He then ran down a list of recent actions and inactions by Microsoft that concerned the company. He started off by pointing to the ribbon interface in Office 2007 for Windows. “By breaking the menus, this also broke hundreds of VBA add-ons for Excel.”

This is similar to the DVD Consortium suddenly changing the specifics to the way DVD players work. It’s not so bad to have to buy another DVD player, but when you look at the hundreds of discs you can no longer watch, and see the (deflated) dollars going up in smoke, you tend to get steamed.

Further reading into the article reveals that Mr. Ballmer’s jumping around, looking for all the world as though he was in need of the big men with the long sleeved white jackets, is nothing new. It was simply not chronicled until recently. (I’ll bet you have a crazy relative somewhere, not necessarily ready for the asylum, but then you don’t recount his exploits when company comes around.) There is even a name for it –

He ran around the stage in sweat-stained blue shirt and khaki chinos, which became known as “Dance Monkeyboy.

So what will they be doing about it?

“Don’t get me wrong, I know many developers at Microsoft and I’m amazed by their skill and talent. The problem is a management vacuum.”

He said the company will move its software off Microsoft developer tools and over to Web 2.0.

That is huge for Microsoft. If people start using other tools, things made simple by Microsoft tools will be harder, and they will change. Some things depending on low level code might start breaking. This will be on older stuff, so the word from everyone involved will be  ‘It’s old, get rid of it!’ and that costs lots of money. Money like that gets paid by every one of us in the chain in little ways we can’t account for directly – but the effect is there, nonetheless.

This anonymous person from the article stated flatly that the problem is not the workaday coders at Microsoft, it is the management that has nothing better to do than change their minds about projects, while playing with the propeller on their beanies, and calculating their profit sharing. (They are multitaskers, you know.)

[tags] ZDNet, Microsoft, developers, disgruntled, management, Dance Monkeyboy, Steve Ballmer [/tags]

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